University of Pittsburgh
October 3, 2000



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 5 -- The University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) has initiated a major project that will preserve thousands of at-risk books and other materials, some of which date back to the 15th century, in its Special Collections Department.

The project's first phase will deacidify approximately 5,000 rare and specialized books, with funds allocated by Provost James V. Maher. ULS Director Rush Miller has designated the use of significant endowment income to support the project during the next 10 years, preserving 50,000 books at a cost of more than $600,000. The materials include books in their original bindings from the Darlington Library (18th-19th century Americana), the Ford E. and Harriet R. Curtis Theatre Collection, and the Nesbitt Collection (children's books from the 18th century to the present).

"We are committed to take the necessary steps to ensure that our rich special collections are preserved for future generations of scholars and students," said Miller. "This procedure will allow these books to last for centuries instead of decades."

The deacidification process will take place at Preservation Technologies in Cranberry, PA, the only mass deacidification facility in the nation. Its Bookkeeper process, developed in 1993, neutralizes the acids in paper without using heat, gasses, or solvents. The acid in paper, accrued through the papermaking process and environmental contact, causes book pages to become brittle and contributes to deterioration.

"This deacidification effort by the University of Pittsburgh further supports the University's leadership position in preservation and attests its confidence level in our ability to handle even materials from the Special Collections," said Dick Spatz, Preservation Technologies' CEO/chairman of the board.